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Florida yachts receive fleet blessing

UPI News Service, 05/25/2008 

The yacht fleet of Pompano Beach, Fla., plied the seas Sunday in a state of grace after its vessels were blessed by a bishop in a centuries-old ceremony.

The armada of pleasure craft gathered along the Intracoastal Waterway Saturday, awaiting the blessing of Bishop Leopold Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. Afterward, they ventured out to engage in a busy long holiday weekend.

"We believe God cares for these people, and we let them know that as part of our blessing," said Frade at the ceremony. "The sea has many perils: bad weather and the boat could break down. Bring them all to harbors of light and peace."

Because traditional blessing of the fleet ceremonies originated in southern Europe and were conducted for desperate fishermen braving perilous tasks, the blessing of Florida pleasure craft may seem a bit silly. But that's not the case, one retired Navy man told the newspaper.

"The sea is a deadly place no matter what type of boat they're on," said Alan Starr, who commands a program for aspiring young sailors in Fort Lauderdale. "So a little help from above won't hurt."

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Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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